As PLoS ONE publishes articles in a wide range of disciplines, including many articles that receive large media coverage, it is not surprising that many also receive coverage on science blogs. As some bloggers are not affiliated with large research institutions where they have access to all the published research through their academic libraries, the fact that PLoS ONE articles are Open Access also makes them more attractive to bloggers.
A number of PLoS ONE authors are themselves bloggers and will often write about their articles on their blogs, providing additional ‘background stories’ about the motivations for the research, anecdotes, or even additional information that did not make it into the paper. Sometimes, lively scientific debates occur in the comments of their blog posts, as well as on the articles themselves.
If one thinks of the scientific paper as the center of an ecosystem, and the notes, comments and ratings on the paper as an additional, outer layer of the ecosystem, then the blogs and media are the ‘outside world’. By linking directly to the articles, bloggers connect the outside world to the paper ‘outside in’. By leaving trackbacks on the papers, bloggers connect the paper to the outside world ‘inside out’. Thus, the complete ecosystem forms and one can navigate it easily in both directions, gaining a fuller picture of the research as a result.
Furthermore, as PLoS treats science and medical bloggers as equal to journalists, the bloggers are increasingly taking advantage of our press policies and thus more frequently writing about our research.
There are, at last glance, 204 recent blog posts covering PLoS ONE articles aggregated on ResearchBlogging.org. That number includes only the blog posts that discuss research in some detail (i.e., not just a simple link) and from a scientific point of view (pseudoscientific blogs are not allowed to use the site), as ResearchBlogging.org provides clear guidelines for what kinds of blog posts, form and content-wise, are eligible to be included.
As the world of journalism is changing fast, sometimes it is not clear if a website is a blog or an online magazine. And we treat traditional and new media equally. Thus, the blog coverage of our papers will be highlighted by Rebecca Walton on everyONE blog together with the media coverage.
But, we will also do something special for our blogging community – every month, I will read all the blog coverage aggregated on ResearchBlogging.org and pick a blog post that, in my opinion, showcases the best coverage of a PLoS ONE article. I know, there is no way to quantify the “quality” of writing, so my picks will be personal. I will be looking for the posts that do the best job at connecting the center of the ecosystem – the paper – to the outside world. I will announce the winner here on the 1st of the following month and we’ll send the blogger a small prize as a sign of our appreciation.